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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 7, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 19
RAIN's Beatles tribute the soundtrack of our lives
Arts & Entertainment
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RAIN's Beatles tribute the soundtrack of our lives

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

RAIN - A Tribute
to The Beatles
May 7-9
Paramount Theatre


On February 9, 1964, millions of Americans tuned into The Ed Sullivan Show to watch The Beatles - four mop-topped Englishmen who would go on to become arguably the biggest rock band of all time. Even now, The Beatles' songbook is instantly recognizable as artist after artist covers their music year after year. Although the band made music for nearly 10 years, the Fab Four's final concert tour was in 1966, so a vast majority of their fans never got to see them perform live. Enter RAIN.

RAIN, a tribute band to The Beatles, performs the full range of The Beatles' discography live onstage, including the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studios but never performed for an audience. From the early days of their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 through the Sgt. Pepper era and on to the Abbey Road years, RAIN performs it all. In fact, RAIN has over 200 Beatles songs in their repertoire.

"For anyone who is a true fan, you'd be disappointed to miss the show," Joe Bithorn, who plays the part of George Harrison in RAIN, told SGN. "Fans can expect to see a multi-media presentation - a back-in-time history of the Beatles - through video clips, commercials, and other historical references to the history of the 1960s. The different segments of the show - from Ed Sullivan, A Hard Day's Night, Magical Mystery Tour on through Let It Be - are all done with costuming and set design to match that period of The Beatles' careers."

Bithorn, who says music was at the forefront of his childhood, first saw The Beatles when he was a boy. "When I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, I was flabbergasted," he told SGN. "At the time, in New York, there was this big buildup from the local radio stations who were announcing 'The Beatles are coming, The Beatles are coming.' You could feel that this was going to be something big. History proved just how big of an event it was because the whole country got swept up in Beatle-mania."

Bithorn has performed as George Harrison in RAIN since 1983. "I identify with George [Harrison] because he was lead guitarist in the band. Starting from around 8 years old, I was interested in playing the guitar," he said. "For his time, George was a very well-schooled guitarist. He was just amazing."

Bithorn never got the chance to meet Harrison, or any other member of The Beatles, but says he draws inspiration from their music and the many people he knows who had the opportunity to meet, or work with, The Beatles.

RAIN has continually toured across the country and many parts of the world. Bithorn told SGN that audience members range from "6 to 60." He said it is great to see the younger generations identify with The Beatles' music. "It isn't too surprising, though," he added. "They were all great musicians and as singers - you couldn't touch them. Their harmonies are amazing."

Bithorn says that performing The Beatles' music for their fans is a great experience, particularly because "the audience responds all the way through."

"It is amazing," he said. "The Beatles' music has the quality of being in the 'now.' These songs are so well-written it is like hearing them for the first time. The melodies, chord changes, and lyrics were so well-crafted."

Aside from Bithorn as George Harrison, RAIN includes Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, and David Leon as John Lennon, along with keyboard and percussionist Mark Beyer.

According to Bithorn, RAIN has performed in Seattle before - most notably in 1990, when a Seattle Beatles exposition promoter hired RAIN to recreate The Beatles' legendary 1969 rooftop concert. The Fab Four had played a surprise lunch-hour set of new material (which would end up on their Let It Be album) on top of the five-story London building that housed the Abbey Road recording studios. RAIN obliged, playing the 10-song set note for note on a downtown Seattle rooftop, then concluding with the post-Beatles Lennon single "Imagine" as an encore.

"The body of work by The Beatles is timeless, and is the classical music of our time," Bithorn says. "For the most part, generations of the later 20th century didn't grow up with Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms. They grew up with The Beatles."

"We are bringing the opportunity for fans to be able to witness this music live," he said. "For most of our audience, this is the soundtrack of their lives."

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